Mower for a small yard

philly88April 16, 2008

In a previous message (30-year-old Craftsman ...) I explained that my lightweight 20" push mower is perhaps done for. If I can't fix it I'll need a replacement.

I live in a twin rancher with about 1200 square feet of yard (front, side & back). There's a slight slope to the back yard and a bit of a hill abutting the sidewalk in the front that I mow crosswise. Takes 15-20 minutes and not too much of a strain with a light mower. But I think it would be hard with the 70-80 pound push mowers I looked at in HD today.

Most of my neighbors have cheap simple mowers (but heavier than mine). No one has a reel or electric mower, and since I have 50% zoysia grass I'm not sure a reel mower is right for me (and I don't like electric).

Do I need a self-propelled mower like a Toro Recycler 20066 or a Lawn Boy 10685? They seem like a lot of mower for 1200 square feet, and I'm used to mowing crosswise on that hill, turning on a dime, mowing circles around trees, and pushing back and forth into a few tight places between bushes. Or is there something light & non-propulsion that's good? The only mower I've seen that's light is the Snapper R196017B which is supposed to be 55 lbs, but I think it's discontinued and hard-to-find in my area.

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"Takes 15-20 minutes and not too much of a strain with a light mower. But I think it would be hard with the 70-80 pound push mowers I looked at in HD today."

I think that says it all. A powered mower from Toro or Lawnboy would be a good choice. A lighter weight push power from Sears or similar is certainly an alternative, but I think a good power mower has a lot going for it. It's a heck of a lot more pleasant to use a powered machine in summer.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 10:53AM
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I looked at the Toro Recycler selling for $349 at HD yesterday, and if I can find a dealer selling the Lawn Boy 10685 I'll look at that too. I did find a dealer selling the 19" 55-lb Snapper R196017B and I'll check on that also.

What concerns me with the Toro and LB is that none of my neighbors with similar yards use such big mowers. It would be nice to be the only person with a Lawn Boy, but with the tight turns and trees and bushes in my small front, side, and back yards I don't know how comfortable I'd be with a self-propelled. It's a tough choice. I never thought that a 30-year-old 20" Craftsmen would be so hard to replace. Oh well, there's still a chance that I'll be able to fix it, but the grass is getting high! Thanks for your advice.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 11:34AM
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I know it's not a very popular choice on this forum, but if you have a HD close, look at the Cub Cadet CC550SP. The engine runs smooth and has good power, and it's rear wheel drive. The cut is only 19", so it does not qualify as a 'big' mower.

I think the best feature is the single lever height adjust. When using the adjusters at all 4 wheels, I always have to adjust my wheels twice because I do it wrong the first time.

Like I said, I know it's not a popular choice on this forum because it is from MTD, but I've used one a couple of times and I like it. Too small for my yard, but I wouldn't hesitate if I had a smaller plot. And at the price - $259, it's a good deal in my book.

Also, Consumer Reports just rated it's mulching, bagging and side discharge as "very good".

Good luck deciding.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 11:48AM
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Philly, Why not just buy a new engine and repower the old craftsman if you like it so much?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 7:20PM
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I got a chance to look at a 19" Snapper in person, and I would have loved to been able to buy it, but it had just been sold. Why this mower was discontinued 2 years ago is beyond me. There are lots of people who would love a 55 lb 19" mower like that. It may have been a value line model, but it had a good solid deck, nice engine, and was light and nimble.

My second choice was a 21" Lawn Boy 10685, which I bought yesterday. It's great, I love the Sens-A-Speed propulsion, especially for my back yard which has a grade to it that can be wearing even though it's just a slight incline.

But it's going to take a while to adjust to this; as I said, my yard is small and has obstacles, and I feel a twinge of regret at not being able to buy the Snapper. I could have whipped that Snapper around just like my old Craftsman, which, btw, has a magnesium alloy deck that is very light and hasn't worn in 30 years of use. Perhaps I *should* repower it. I'm going to keep it and make it a project for a rainy day, maybe try to fix it, maybe repower it, but it's unlikely I'll ever go back to using it regularly.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 9:48PM
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Fixing something yourself is always a great and
rewarding experience. Knowledge is gained and
a wonderful feeling of pride results. Go for the
fix, better set aside a 'sunny' day,
for the 'road-test'. Best of luck.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2008 at 10:04AM
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Thanks, I agree that fixing something is rewarding and fun; I've never worked on an engine, and this 30-year-old Craftsman's engine is about as simple as I'll ever see. Looking at the parts diagram and reading this forum have me itching to try.

To the person who recommended the Cub Cadet. I did look at their 19" push model in HD and I read favorable reviews on ConsumerGuide and Epinions. But it's listed at 72 lbs and looks as bulky and heavy as a lot of the other mowers. The Snapper at 55 lbs was a better fit for me even though it was less highly rated by ConsumerGuide. Ultimately I decided (after being unable to buy the discontinued Snapper) to go with a self-propelled and bought a Lawn Boy from a local dealer instead of going back to HD.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2008 at 12:59PM
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